NEC raises alarm over spike in Nigeria’s Covid-19 cases


…Calls for strict enforcement of compliance protocols

Members of the National Economic Council (NEC) have raised an alarm over the spike in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

In recent weeks, Nigeria has witnessed a spike in infections. On Wednesday, the nation recorded 930 new cases, marking the highest single day count since the first case was confirmed on February 27, 2020.

At its monthly meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on Thursday, NEC decided to act on the strict enforcement of measures to contain the spread of the disease across the country.

According to a statement by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, a resolution released after the virtual meeting attended by State Governors, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and other federal ministers, noted that “it is alarmed that the current trends are now approaching or surpassing the levels reached during the lockdown imposed at the height of the epidemic earlier in the year.”

While enlarging the membership of its Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 and mandating it to urgently come up with additional measures to deal with the spike in cases, NEC noted that “the country is now experiencing a huge resurgence of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care and the existing health facilities are fast becoming overwhelmed.”

The Committee chaired by the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa with the Governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Plateau, Kano, Anambra and the FCT Minister, has now been enlarged with the addition of the Governors of Ogun and Kaduna.

The Minister of Health is also a member of the Committee, while the Federal Ministers of Information and Youth and Sports have also been asked to join.

Also, Health and Information Commissioners in the States would now be co-opted into the assignment.

The Vice President asked the Committee to urgently develop innovative and new measures to curtail the spread of the disease, acting in the best interests of both the health and overall welfare of Nigerians.

“NEC notes that this increase is being accelerated by non-compliance with the non-pharmaceutical interventions advised by government, including the wearing of masks, limiting of gatherings, especially indoors and the washing/sanitization of hands,” the statement said.

“NEC, therefore, wishes to reemphasize the importance of these measures. Particularly as we approach the end of the year and the social gatherings associated with the holiday season, we must avoid activities or behavior that may aggravate the situation and necessitate another lockdown.”

Meanwhile, NEC firmly resolved to advocate rigorous and strict enforcement of the non-pharmaceutical interventions listed below:

  1. Restrict all physical gatherings and instead opt for virtual meetings, whenever possible. If physical meetings must be held, ensure there is adequate ventilation of the room, limit the number of attendees, wear face masks, maintain a physical distance of at least two metres and adhere to other public health measures.
  2. No mask, no entry, no service – all staff members, visitors and customers entering workplaces, shops, entertainment or business premises must wear a face mask that should cover the mouth and nose at all times, and should not remove them, especially if speaking to another person in close proximity.
  3. Temperature checks must be carried out on all employees and customers entering office and business premises (any person with a temperature 38 degrees Celsius or above, should be denied entry and advised to go for a health check).
  4. All office and business premises must have a handwashing station with running water and soap or hand sanitizer at the entrance. Employers and business owners have a responsibility to ensure hand sanitizers are always refilled and soap and water always available.
  5. Offices, shops and business premises must be well-ventilated and cleaned regularly throughout the day, ensuring that frequently touched surfaces like desks, countertops, work stations, railings, door handles, are cleaned and disinfected. An occupational health and infectious diseases preparedness plan must be in place, in case an employee, customer or visitor becomes unwell.

NEC Members also commiserated with families of the Kankara schoolboys who were abducted by gunmen in Katsina State while also consoling with the entire people and government of the State.

“NEC expressed outrage on the kidnapping of the boys in their school premises and utterly condemned the brazen act of the abductors as not only criminal and lawless but a deliberate attempt to sow seeds of fear in people,” Akande said.

“The members while supporting immediate steps already taken by the Federal and State governments to rescue the boys, urged for more effective collaboration between security agencies and the communities to ensure that such despicable act does not repeat itself anywhere in the country.”

Photo: Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

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